Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Beautiful babes!

Eilish Rothney, Trinity Broads Warden

End of April and May have seen the start of our breeding wetland bird survey on the Trinity Broads. This involves myself and two volunteers “pootling” around the reed fringes of all five broads looking and listening for signs of breeding birds. And, with 21km of reed fringe this is no mean feat. 

Spot the chick!
Early in the season is best for nest spotting as the reeds have not grown too tall, the low flat rafts of the great crested grebe and the raised maisonettes of the coot are works of art. Each nest is individual, sometimes we can see eggs but sometimes the coot builds a “volcano” so little is visible in the crater. Often the parent sits tight protecting her clutch. We are very careful not to disturb or cause distress.

Other signs we look for are birds “skulking” in the water – looking furtive, swimming low like a submarine about to dive. Or else they shoot out… or into… the reeds very suddenly. A lone male swan, wings erect, magnificent and regal patrols keeping others away from his territory. The female sits serene atop a mountain of plant material.

With the warm spring, already there are mature families of grebe – the young beginning to lose their characteristic stripy heads. The stripes signal the parents to feed them, soon these will have to fend for themselves. We spot a family of pochard, seven little ducklings sticking as close to mum as possible, for the moment safe from predators such as lesser black-backed gulls.

From the reeds warblers and reed buntings churr and whistle and occasionally a Cetti's warbler shouts its melodic song from a broad-shore bush; each call a territory and potential nest. A lone bittern boomed in April but we don’t think he found love.

May and the broads have been full of coot chicks – some families of five young which is unusual! There is still nest building activity and we are hoping for more duck families. If you are out on the Broads try to disturb the red fringes as little as possible, some birds are very nervous. Keep a safe distance and mind your boat wash.

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